NetApp, Cisco Integrate SolidFire All-Flash Storage With UCS Servers In New FlexPod SF

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NetApp and Cisco are using this week's Cisco Live conference to unveil a new version of their FlexPod converged infrastructure offering that features NetApp's SolidFire all-flash storage array technology and is targeted at scalable data center workloads.

The new FlexPod SF converged infrastructure is also the first to include an all-Cisco hardware stack as a way to help FlexPod compete against the fast-growing hyper-converged infrastructure market, said Lee Howard, chief technology officer for the Cisco alliance at NetApp.

The FlexPod SF, scheduled to be available starting in mid-July, comes as FlexPod continues to be the fastest-growing converged infrastructure offering.

[Related: CRN Exclusive: NetApp CEO Kurian On Turning Corner On Growth, Competing With Dell EMC And Fending Off Pure Storage]

IDC last month estimated that FlexPod had a 28.8-percent share of the converged infrastructure market in the first quarter of 2017. While that was still significantly behind the 47.2-percent share held by Dell EMC, the FlexPod revenue grew 26.1 percent in the first quarter compared to the same period last year, while the market as a whole, and Dell EMC in particular, saw revenue fall.

This is not the first time NetApp and Cisco have integrated SolidFire all-flash storage technology with FlexPod, Howard told CRN. The two early this year added SolidFire to FlexPods that used NetApp's Ontap storage operating system, he said.

What's new is the fact that the new FlexPod SF is based on the SolidFire Element operating system, which was designed specifically for modern data center workloads, Howard said.

"It's all about policy-driven automation," he said. "We could do it with Ontap. But with Element OS, a customer can use 12 lines of code to do API integration with OpenStack. That makes it easier to bring new workloads to cloud environments for customers who don't have sophisticated skillsets. Other vendors say they can do the integration, but they need several hundred lines of code."

That policy-driven automation is not just for OpenStack, but for other technologies increasingly being adopted by modern data centers including such container technologies as OpenShift, Kubernates and Docker, or OpenStack's Cinder block storage technology, he said.

Andy Sayare, NetApp's senior manager of converged infrastructure solutions marketing, said FlexPod SF provides an opportunity for channel partners looking to help customers move to modern data center infrastructures.

"This is a real opportunity because of the programmable infrastructure of the SolidFire technology," Sayare told CRN. "It provides tons of automation that can be used to streamline operations."

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